Sept. 7, 2004

McMaster University welcomes first-year students

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A rainbow of students participate in Welcome Week events on the McMaster campus.

Hamilton, ON - As new students arrive at McMaster University this week, they will be greeted by the usual fanfare of Welcome Week, which runs from Sept. 4-12. However, several new programs and activities launched by the University will aid them in adjusting to University life.

Dean of Students, Phil Wood says, “Our motivation for the changes and improvements to Welcome Week is the goal from Refining Directions [McMaster University’s planning document] ‘to build and inclusive community with a shared purpose.’” The week’s theme, “One McMaster,” recognizes the diversity of the University and its students, while uniting the campus through the shared experience of Welcome Week.

Danielle Stayzer, First Year Experience Manager, has seen a significant shift over the last few years in the focus of Welcome Week and believes new students are benefiting. “As each Welcome Week concludes, we spend time evaluating the overall program as it connects to the University’s goals. We take the student feedback directly to the next group of student planners and use it to move forward with the next year’s program.”

A new addition this year was Prelude to Mac (, an online orientation program. Says Welcome Week co-ordinator Erin Tolan, “Prelude started as a question and answer service, but now it has really become a community.” In fact, some students have already set up a meet-and-greet in their hometown through the Web site, before they arrive to participate in Welcome Week.

Once on campus, students will get a dramatic introduction to University life as they watch and participate in a theatre production: IRIS – Inspiration, Reflections, Integrity, Success. “The great thing about the IRIS production is that it’s written by the student cast so the scenes reflect actual experiences,” says Meghann Haggerty, Welcome Week co-ordinator. “Our hope is that this drama will challenge students to look beyond the myths that get passed down to them and create their own unique experiences.”

To give students a unique introduction to the academic side of university life, the overall theme of Welcome Week will be applied to a central event, titled One McMaster – a Faculty Welcome. At this event on Tuesday, Sept. 7 President Peter George, Dean of Students Phil Wood, and other University personnel will formally welcome new students to McMaster.